Long term conditions (LTCs) are health conditions that can’t, at present, be cured but can be controlled by medication and therapies. LTCs include diseases such as asthma, diabetes and epilepsy. People with LTCs are more likely to see their GP, be admitted to hospital, stay longer in hospital and children with LTCs are more likely to miss more school if their condition is not controlled.
Asthma is the commonest long-term medical condition in childhood; approximately 1 in 11 children have it. It is a long-term condition that affects the airways in the lungs. Symptoms include breathlessness, tightness in the chest, coughing and wheezing. The goal of managing asthma successfully is for the person to be free from symptoms and able to lead a normal and active life. This is achieved partly through treatment, and partly by people getting to know what aggravates their symptoms and avoiding these triggers as much as possible.
Comparative data on asthma is generally limited to hospital admissions; asthma prevalence data is available, but this is for all ages, not specifically children. In 2013/14, admission rates for asthma in Wakefield (221.2 admissions per 100,000 population aged under 19) were similar to the national and regional averages (England = 197.1, Region = 197.7). There were a total of 161 hospital admissions for people aged under 19 because of asthma. The rate has increased from 172.3 per 100,000 in 2011/12.
Nationally there are wide variations in outcomes for people living with asthma, with hospital admissions for asthma being 6 times higher in certain areas. These variations can also be seen in Wakefield. Wakefield Central has the highest rate of emergency admissions for asthma in person aged under 20 years; the rate of 307.5 per 100,000 is significantly higher than the rates in the other areas.
Enhancing the quality of life for people with LTCs is a priority for the NHS; a key area of focus is reducing the time spent in hospital by people with LTCs. Unplanned hospitalisation for asthma, diabetes and epilepsy in children aged under 19 is the indicator used to measure improvement. The rate for Wakefield is lower in 2013/14, at 356.3 (admissions per 100,000), than it was in 2010/11 (377.6); however, the rate is significantly higher than the England average (311.4). Again, the rate for Wakefield Central (493.1) is significantly higher than the rates in the other areas.